Julie was just 17 when she was named for the Australian squad and WENT ON TO HAVE A STELLAR NETBALL CAREER, gaining the well-earned reputation as being one OF OUR GREATEST DEFENDERS. JULIE won gold at the Commonwealth Games and famously played for the Diamonds in the 2015 Netball World Cup with a broken foot. And yes! They won the world title. It’s no wonder that she’s such an inspiration to young players and her clinics are in such demand.
You grew up in a small country town. Who were your idols when you were growing up?
Yes, I grew up in Kerang in regional Victoria. I looked up to my older brother and sister when I was younger. They inspired me with their determination and stamina to be successful and put 100% into everything they did. They both represented Australia in Athletics and my brother played for Carlton and my sister represented Victoria in Netball. There were local athletes in Bendigo that I looked up to who went to the Commonwealth and Olympic Games. Duane Cousins was an Olympic walker that I used to write good luck letters to him before his big events. I really enjoyed following his journey when I was younger. It was when I moved to Melbourne that I really got into netball and I idolized Liz Beniello (nee Taverner). She was a great role model for me. I also loved watching Sharelle McMahon and Liz Ellis and was lucky enough to play alongside them throughout my netball career.
Did you know you always wanted to be a professional netballer or were YOU tempted by other sports?
I grew up in a very sporty, competitive family. It wasn’t just netball that I was into when I was younger. There was athletics, swimming, basketball…If there was any sport at school, I was into it. I was even on the school table tennis and badminton team.
You made your Commonwealth Bank Trophy debut at 16 and you were named Best Talent (Congratulations!). How did you balance your netball career with study?
It was challenging at times, but it was all worth it. I had to stay very organized and make sure I maintained the balance. I must admit I got quite sick when I was in Year 12 trying to do everything. You never want to say no to anything, but you can’t do everything, and I found out the hard way!We noticed that you went on to become qualified secondary PE and Math teacher.Yes, I studied full time from 2006 to 2009 and completed a Bachelor of Exercise Science (Physical Education) and a Diploma of Education. It was my Dad that gave me some tough love and told me you’re only an injury away from nothing! He had the best intentions and wanted to make sure we all had an education and a career path outside of sport.
You were part of the inaugural Melbourne Vixen ‘dream team’ formed in 2008. The team turned it around after the first year and won the Championship title the following year. What changes did you make as a player and a team?
I think we played for each other and not anyone else (there was a lot of media pressure at the time). Sometimes you can be the dream team on paper, but it doesn’t necessarily work in reality. You also just need to have some fun and enjoy the game.
You’ve won a lot of Gold Medals over the years, World Championships, Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, ANA Premiers, World Cup … just to name a few! Do you have a trophy room?
My parents have quite a few of my medals and trophies but I still have my World Cup medals in a frame with my team photo. I keep some of my medals handy so I can take them to my clinics and show the kids.
You have played with some of the greats of Australian netball including Liz Ellis and Laura Geitz. What’s the best advice you’ve been given by a fellow player or coach over the years?
During my very first test match, I played with Liz Ellis. I was put on half way through a quarter and I was so nervous. Liz gave me some great advice: relax and smile. You’ve done all the hard work. Just enjoy it.
What advice do you give to aspiring netballers who attend your Clinics?
Be a sponge! Take on as much from every different coach that you have along the way because when you put that all together it can be so valuable. That is your recipe to become a successful athlete.My motto is ‘work hard for what you want’ and have fun and enjoy it.
Did you journal as a player and how did you find it helpful?
Yes, I did. I like to write everything down in everyday life. I also love lists as they help me be more productive with my time and achieve my goals. It’s the same for sport and netball. I had goals and I wrote them all down.Before and after games I would look over my journal and write myself notes about my own game as well as the opponent’s game. It’s so helpful and valuable for the next time you play them.
It’s your turn for book club. What book would you choose?
My incredible Netball Journal (of course)!
At this stage in my life I’m constantly reading … Spot, Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, Wiggles books to name a few.